Facts You Should Know About a Hip Contusion
What is the medical definition of a hip contusion?
The hip joint is a "ball-in-socket" joint that attaches the thigh to the torso of the body. This allows the lower extremity to move in the many directions needed for walking, jumping, sitting, and squatting. Small injuries in or around the hip can cause significant pain and loss of function. A contusion is a bruise, and a hip contusion is a common injury to the tissues around the hip that can affect hip function.
Hip contusions cause tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to break and cause the bleeding that characterizes the bruise.
How bad is a hip contusion?
The force of the injury can also cause damage and inflammation within the joint and to the structures that surround it. Understanding the mechanism of injury may help predict what structure is hurt, what tests need to be done, how long it's going to hurt, and what can be done to make it better.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Hip Contusions?
Hip contusions can affect any of the structures that compose the joint.
- Contusions can cause swelling within the muscles and tendons surrounding the hip. The muscles may go into spasm as the hip tries to move. When the injured muscle stretches, pain increases.
- The injury may affect the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that provide a gliding surface for the tissues around the joint. If the bursa becomes inflamed (bursitis), there can be local tenderness.
- The bone itself can become bruised and painful. Rarely, the contusion can cause swelling and bleeding within the joint. Increased amount of fluid within the joint leads to further decreased range of motion.
- Contusion can cause increased pain in a joint that is already inflamed. Patients who have arthritis can have significant pain with a relatively minor injury because of the underlying damaged already present within the hip joint.
How Long Do Hip Contusions Last?
Hip contusions may take a significant amount of time to heal and allow return to full activity. Athletes who are injured may need physical therapy to return to the playing field. The older patient may need therapy to preserve strength and stability to prevent future falls and injury.
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Bucholz, R.W., et al. Rockwood and Green's Fractures in Adults, 7th Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009.